Saturday, June 7, 2008

Media rights (EDITORIAL)

Source: Bhutan Observer
23 May 2008:
When Dr. Manmohan Singh, the Prime Minister of the largest democracyin the world visited Bhutan, his entourage included a separate plane for the media. Now that is what is called a democracy in practice. What happens subsequently in the world’s youngest democracy, the smallest private media is denied access to the meeting of the two prime ministers. Only Kuensel and BBS, the state-run media are allowed. That is certainly not a democracy.

One private radio went on air denouncing the discrimination, saying that he was invited and then humiliated. But radio is yet to pick up, the audience being youth who will not understand the nuances of the freedom of press. The private newspapers and the proprietor of the radio station issued a press release to Kuensel and BBS about what transpired before the event but they did not run the story. So much for state-run media - after all, it is the owner who dictates the terms. That is not democracy either.

We have been made to understand that there was some communication gap resulting in the fiasco. We understand that there is. This is not the first time that such discrimination has happened. Private media has, since inception upon royal decree, always been looked upon as a pariah for taking on issues beyond the confines of state media. If the role of media was to echo the voice of the government, then it would seem that entrepreneurs were hoodwinked in investing in media. That is not democracy.

There is the need to resolve the disconnect between the hat and the help. The head of the government has been elected by the people but the beaurocracy remains firmly entrenched in what it is best known for. The red tape that defies the logic of service to the people. The transition to democracy is about change, change that has to be pummelled into the heads of people at the helm of the system. They got to ride along with the times or get out of the scene altogether. A stagnant mindset is not democracy.

The constitution guarantees the freedom of media. Private media was encouraged to keep abreast with the gift of democracy by His Majesty the Fourth King. A democracy is implausible in the absence of the freedom of press. It should be clear now, in no uncertain terms, that all media should be given equal access and opportunity. Any official who does not understand this should be weeded out. If, by some fluke, state media had written about the rejection of the private media, how would it have looked in the Indian press. Now that would have been true democracy.
Kelly on May 23rd, 2008 6:37 pm

And everything happened right after, PM JYT said his government places paramount importance on media. By media he must have meant only the state run media. Private media, when it comes to all this VVIP visits and other important meetings, are deprived from participation. While the BBS and the Kuensel gets through even the closed door.
But that does not mean, private media should lose heart. Private media elsewhere in the world has survived. So shall the bhutanese one too. The hope lies in carrying out its responsiblities responsibly. The hope lies in the adamant quest for a level playing field.
Do not feel bad when some other is given the preference. Private media has made its impact. What Kuensel, could not do in the last 30 years or so, the two private media did it in just two years. It is an achievment to be proud of. Forget BBS. It needs to be completely corporatized or handed over to a private organzation.
And the old theory that media will always remain under the state control for varied reasons, is true. But Bhutanese Private media (I keep trust on BT and BO) should not give in rather it should break new grounds. Do stories that are meaningful, that concerns the larger masses, and those that wil change our lives.
If the government does not attribute and give equal importance-we should raise our voice. Here is a voice-the editorial. Fighting in the right spirit. Here is my vioce. Hope there are others too who would follow suit.

LAYGMAN on May 29th, 2008 12:24 pm
I fully agree with what Kelly commented. The more bariers you encounter, more determined you should be. I commend on what the two print media has been able to do in the last two years of comming into scenerio. We appreciate the kind of the news the private media are covering compared to the state run media which always comes out with government statistics and plans and not the core issues which an ordinary face in their everyday life.
I feel that when it comes to authenticity of the news, people know that they get better and more truth in the two private newspapers. Now, that itself is what should spur you.people like me are troubled to learn that you are descriminated in getting access to cover a very important event which infact was an oppurtunity for the world’s youngest democracy to show to its big brother and the world’s largest democracy that we are indeed genuine when we claim that we are now a proud member of the club of democracy in its true form.


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